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How to Really Improve Your Cycling Performance and Ride Pain-Free

July 12, 2016

Ever dreamed of doing a Century Ride or even a 50-miler on your road bike? Imagine the wind rushing by you as you streak down country roads and over rolling hills enjoying the breathtaking scenery. Or does the thought of that send chills down your spine because every time you ride longer than a couple of hours you’re in pain?

If so, can you remember a time you felt pain and discomfort free on your bicycle? Does your seat feel like a torture device? Do your hands go numb? Does your back feel stiff? Is your neck tight? Do your feet get tingly? Are you unable to reach and comfortably ride in the drops on your road bike? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might want to consider a professional bike fitting.

I never really had any excessive pain riding my road bike, but after about 20-30 miles I would notice some numbness in my feet, tension in my lower back and shoulders and my butt would be slightly sore. Each time I chalked it up to not riding enough and not being in good cycling shape. Guess again! Turns out your body is extremely adaptable and these slight annoyances are actually warning signs that you are not fitted correctly to your bike because cycling shouldn’t be painful even going long distances. Even if you’re not in pain, a proper bike fitting will increase your efficiency and performance as a cyclist.

The way that your bicycle fits you is very important for every rider, whether you’re out on the bike path, doing your next charity road ride, trying to set a new PR at your next triathlon or even spending the day out on your local mountain bike trails. Bicycles are not a “one-size-fits-all” proposition as there are far too many variations in rider’s body types for a bicycle to fit perfectly “off-the-rack”. But that’s exactly what I had been riding on for almost 6 years – an off the rack fit!

A properly fitted bicycle will yield a position for your body that is safe, stable, comfortable, efficient, and powerful. I never realized how critical this was until I had the exciting opportunity to experience the fitting services at Pedal Power right here in Middletown, Vernon and Essex, CT. Pedal Power offers several fitting services that will create a seamless marriage between your bicycle and your body.

While I knew that I wasn’t fit correctly to my bike, I was shocked to learn that all of the following were incorrect: size of saddle, firmness of saddle, height of saddle, length of handlebar reach, position of handlebars, and stance angle of my cletes!

Within minutes of some simple adjustments, I could already see and feel the difference in how comfortable I was atop my ride!

What sets Pedal Power’s fitting services apart?

All of Pedal Power’s bike fitters are certified by organizations that are leaders in bike fitting in the cycling industry. But what’s really cool is the current, cutting-edge technology and fitting tools (like Saddle Pressure Analysis and Video Motion Capture) they use to help better understand the dynamics of your body, and bike-to-body interface while you are pedaling. This helps them to enable you to achieve your personal on-the-bike potential. I was also amazed at the amount of analysis that goes into determining the best fit in addition to my techs, Gary and Matt’s critical thinking skills, willingness to listen to my wants & needs, & applied fitting knowledge.

Types of Bike Fitting Services

Pedal Power offers several different fitting services in order to benefit every type and skill level of bicycle rider.

1. Existing Bike Fit – Talk about all-inclusive – in my pre-fitting interview, Matt asked me about my entire life history of exercise, injuries, surgeries, cycling history and pretty much everything in between except my sex life! Next came a standard body analysis to gauge your flexibility, core strength, and range-of-motion – I had to do a timed plank! He measured everything from my sacrum angle to shoulder width to inseam height and shoulder and hip rotation. Then there was a foot analysis, motion-video capture during the fitting, and a saddle pressure mapping during the baseline assessment. All of this was on my current bicycle and my pre-fit and post-fit bike dimensions were recorded and documented.

2. Size Cycle Fit – You get the same interview, standard body & foot analysis, motion-video capture, & a single, baseline saddle pressure map as the Existing Fit. They perform the fitting on their fully adjustable Size Cycle, where they determine your ideal position outside of the constraints of a pre-existing bicycle. This fitting is perfect if you have more than one bike that you would like to fit the same and is part of their custom-made bicycle process. A full saddle pressure analysis upgrade is available with this fitting as well.

3. Expanded Analysis Fit – Includes the same items as the Size Cycle Fit, and adds: an expanded body analysis (for a more thorough understanding of your body’s range of motion, flexibility and physical limiters), full saddle pressure mapping analysis and can be performed with any style of handlebar, no upgrade required. This is the most comprehensive fit service.

Pedal Power also offers add-ons to their fitting services to allow them to be even further tailored to your specific cycling needs:

Saddle Pressure Analysis – This was really cool! Through digital imagery delivered through sensors in a pad that was fitted over my existing saddle, I could see exactly where I was putting pressure on the saddle. We saw that my hips were rocking due to a too soft saddle and I had less stability and was putting an extreme amount of pressure on one side of the saddle. This adjustment would give me more efficiency climbing hills, which is something I definitely noticed that I struggled with.

We also saw that I was sitting too far forward on the saddle because the handlebars were not fitted correctly and I was leaning too far to reach them. This eliminated the pain I would feel in my shoulders and also on the web of my hand between my thumbs and first fingers.

Upgrading to a full saddle pressure analysis will enable their bike fit professionals to investigate how changes in saddle model or body position affect your dynamic saddle pressure, pelvic rotation, & pelvic movement. Saddle pressure is no longer an ambiguous, anecdotal measurement. Measurable data and a visual representation that doubles as biofeedback during your fitting elevates their ability to make you more stable, efficient & comfortable while riding.

All fittings are scheduled by appointment. When you are going to arrive for your fitting, you will need to bring all of your regular cycling clothing (jersey, shorts, shoes, etc). Snug fitting cycling clothing is important as it allows your fitter to observe the contours of your body when you are pedaling.

I just went out for my first ride last night on my newly fitted bike and I noticed a difference immediately with the adjustment to the handlebars as soon as I got on the bike. I only rode for 10 miles, but I am happy to report that I had no pain in my butt, back, shoulders or hands – thanks to Pedal Power!

Submitted by Dr. Diane Hayden. For more information, visit: www.pedalpowerct.com.

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